Teenagers who don’t get enough sleep may have a higher likelihood of developing risk factors for heart disease, such has high blood pressure and excess body fat, researchers are reporting. In one of the largest and most comprehensive studies of its kind to date, scientists tracked the sleep and daytime activity of 829 adolescents for seven to 10 days. They evaluated the quantity and quality of sleep as well as factors related to cardiovascular health—including blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and abdominal fat distribution.
The researchers found that the teens who slept less than 7 hours a night, nearly a third of the participants, tended to have more body fat, elevated blood pressure, and less healthy cholesterol levels. “These results support the need to assess the role of sleep quantity and quality interventions as strategies for improving cardiovascular risk profiles in adolescents,” researchers noted in the journal article. Their study, partly funded by NHLBI, appeared in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.